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Everything posted by bourdain

  1. The results of the Brenner-inspired bearnaise re-test are in: Test Subject took exact recipe from the book, and made it "cowboy style"--meaning over direct flame, not even using the safer and more gentle double-boiler. Test Subject used recipe proportions and directions exactly--except with added hazard of direct heat. Result was deemed "fine--in fact, really good". Conclusion? Reviewer Brenner did not pay attention to early suggestion that a "good heart" is a basic requirement for good cooking. Author has hard time believing Brenner is so lousy a cook that she could not make bearnaise sauce if genuinely motivated.
  2. What's wrong with raw pork fat? I've eaten it recently sliced thinly over croutons, melted raw onto pizza--and in thick hunks in Russia with vodka. Trichinosis pretty much disappeared from pork decades ago--when we stopped allowing them to eat garbage. So fear not the pig! But if you ARE troubled by the cooked/raw contact in the rillettes recipe, you can simply render a little pork fat and pour a layer over the top then chill. Whatever you think of the review--and however valid or invalid her critique of the recipes mentioned ( I await further egullet input) , I thought the trichinosis crack from Brenner was lazy-ass and ignorant. Raw--and barely cured pork fat is an increasingly popular ingredient here and in the UK. One yearns for the heroically unsqueamish, un-nerdy Leibling..
  3. I'd be grateful for any feedback on the bernaise and coq au vin recipes from egulleteers.
  4. No kidding.. Ruhlman's language is as unspeakably foul as his behavior is beastly. It's why I won't do any more public events with him. Watching a room full of little old ladies blanche when Ruhlman launches into yet another vicious and profane tirade against his fellow writers, chefs, James Beard House, his aromatherapist, and anyone else unfortunate enough to have fallen into his orbit is..well..just appalling. My momma used to call it "potty mouth". There ARE other words than the "F" word you know, Michael. Now wash that septic maw out with soap! You ain't EVER getting on Oprah talking like that!
  5. Hell, I'm drinking Guiness and eatig Steak and Ale pie in Dublin. This all came as news to me. Still processing it.
  6. Favorite quotes from today's excellent update on the gang-rush to the lifeboats on the SS Beard: Ruth Reichl: "..it certainly doesn't need a million dollar awards gala." "I'm so disturbed by the notion that the board knew about this situation for months and didn't reach out to us (the restaurant committee). " "Chefs are the most generous people on earth and I can't stand the idea that their generosity was being abused." Mario Batali: " I vote on best chef Southeast with perhaps never having eaten at any of the contending chefs' restaurants, which in truth results in little more than a popularity contest."
  7. To almost quote poet prophet Gill Scott Heron: " Wake up (Beardies)--or we're ALL through!!" Let's put it this way: If the Beard House was any restaurant in the world, there'd be a lotta people looking for work today.The Nixon strategy ain't working.
  8. The Beardies, in various public statements and back channel communications with journalists and chefs seem to continue to miss a very basic point. While they acknowledge that moneys might have been misused (by rogue elements--a loose cannon a lone nut..etc.) they seem to remain in denial and oblivious to the bigger picture, the more pervasive problem. Problem being that a lot of chefs, food writers and food professionals are privately wringing their hands with glee at their problems. Their problems cannot be fixed by weakly explaining or clarifying numbers--or promising to do better in the future. Michael's post demonstrates perfectly what the larger problem is: that Beard House is widely perceived as an elite, private dining club blissfully disengaged and oblivious to the needs and concerns of the professional chefs it claims to celebrate--and even disengaged (it appears) from their own financial operations. It is seen by many chefs as a necessary evil to be catered to-- like Venetian princes--in return for patronage (publicity) rather than genuinely admired. The library issue is a good example. So they have a library. Great. Who fucking knew? And it's open to the public--by appointment apparently. I guess you have to pony up all those bucks for membership and the self-congratulatory little newsletter to find that out. My point is that humility, some OUTREACH to working chefs and cooks who DON'T currently belong (and might never) would be a good thing. That the perception of the Beard House needs to be radically alterered if it is to avoid future irrelevance. I'm not suggesting that the Beard House become a charity for needy chefs--or a social service like a foodie job corps--but real engagement with the profession, a staff and personnel who are seen by chefs as insiders--rather than outsiders--could only be for the good. The Beard Cult HAS done a lot of good work by publicizing chefs--and it has--and will no doubt continue to do so. But the remaining aparachiks would be well advised to stop clinging so fiercely and defensively to the status quo. Scandal may suck--but it is also an opportunity. Change can be good. Especially when it is (as many, many observers agree) badly needed.
  9. I believe "admisters" 200K is a lot different than "contributed" itself. Meaning--if I understand from Moskin --that, for instance, CIA comes up with its own money for Beard selected or named recipient(s). Big difference. The basic math (4.7 million in--27,000 back) remains the same. Clarification?
  10. Sounds like the usual " I didn't know--It was the other guy" strategy.
  11. It's easy enough to see what's WRONG with the Beard House. That's been evident for years (though certainly not the full extent of the financial excess and irregularity). And a head or two will surely roll--followed by some soul-searching--and hopefully some reorganization in the wake of all the revelations. Fact remains that the Beard House IS the only game in town, the preeminent organization to honor, publicize, celebrate--and hopefully, one day-support and assist a craft and an industry they claim to love. So how to do this? How to do the right thing AND quickly dispel the notion that they are in fact an elite dining club for a privileged few who like to live high on the hog, toot their own horns, celebrate themselves and the cult of James Beard? How to fix the perception problem? How to fix the mess? 1) Understand that the CULTURE of the Beard House has to be completely overhauled. While I have no doubt that the actual numbers--and the tax problems--were a rude surprise to the board and management, one has to ask 'WHY?" The large amount of dough coming in--and the relatively little going out was apparent to us on this board, to chefs, to many outsiders for years. They need a defined purpose and goals and to live up to them. With all the attendant checks and balances and a degree of transparency and honesty with it's supporters and members that has so far been missing. 2) They need to correct the impression--widely held--that if you're not a dues paying member, or haven't cooked at the House, or contributed to a function, that you ain't getting recognized. Which is to say real, up to date, INFORMED outreach to up and coming chefs and cooks all over the country. Perhaps chefs should be invited on the basis of local or regional panels who are more likely to have actually eaten their food. The whole process needs examining and fixing. 3) A library. For fuck's sake--it's the LEAST they can do. They've been pouring money into that little house for years!! How about a lending/reference library for professionals. Help interested culinarians AND save some classic cookbooks and food and culinary arts related works while you're at it. This seems a no-brainer. 4) MORE and REAL scholarships to people who need them. Which is to say time to give back to all the latinos who make up so much of this industry and who are CONSPICUOUSLY absent at Beard events and awards ceremonies. The House gives the impression of not liking or caring about cooks very much (unless they're working for free--and even then). Time to fix that. Last time I went to the Awards ceremony, I hadn't seen so many white people together since George Wallace ran for president. It's a shameful and distorted reflection of an industry that would shut down cold without Mexican and latino workers. 5) In that vein, some useful and free immigration advice and assistance to those seeking a grandfathered green card. As we all know, a lot of our cooks pay a lot of bread to corrupt lawyers and fixers for help they never get. 6) Open the nominating process up a bit. Regions should nominate/vote by region--not reflect who got more national press or attended more foodie functions. 7) Ratchet down the whole Cult of James Beard. Okay, he was an important guy, we all know that. He wasn't a particularly NICE guy though, was he? He's dead. Time to keep the name and save the institution. Any money spent on lavish filmed hummers/salutes to the Great Man for the awards is money better spent elsewhere. And LAY OFF JULIA CHILD!! She refused to endorse or attach her name to anything. Don't start using her name to raise money (with corporate co-sponshorship). I know it's tempting--but would be in appaling taste. 8) Figure out why so many of the Beard dinners are attended by the same mummies all the time--and not a younger and more influential crowd. A chef comes all the way to NYC to cook for free and pick up all that expense, it would be nice of the meal was attended by a few people who could help them. 9) Take a look at what the Jean Louis Palladin Foundation does on a tiny budget (sending cooks to farms to learn how food is raised and where it comes from) and curl up in shame. Then emulate them. 10) Unload all dead wood, and anyone who didn't know but SHOULD have known. 11) Examine and PUBLISH actual expenses. How much did all these functions cost? Where exactly was the money spent? Was it all necessary to the mission? Or more self celebration/self aggrandisement? Any flab? Any rake-offs? Back-scratching? Anybody "testing" equipment or foodstuffs in their home? It'll be a bitter pill to swallow--but necessary now to reassure the public and the industry. Invoice by invoice by invoice, let's take a hard look at the past before trying to establish a future. "Food" "Labor" "Equipment" will not be enough. Line by line, all the way back--track the cat backwards. 12) Hubris, pride, neglect. We have quite enough of that these days. Confession is good for the soul. 12) Consider what the fuck Swoozie Kurtz has to do with food or chefs--and WHY she should host the awards ceremony? The choice of hosts only points up the disconnect between Foundation and the industry. Who's the next year's host? Todd Bridges? Danny Bonaduce? This should be the Oscars of food--not the Golden Globes.
  12. Just read the article and I have to say that even I--at my most cynical and suspicious had no idea of the degree to which these schnorrers having been apparently raking off the cream. 4.7 MILLION taken down last year--and a paltry 29,00 spent on scholarships. I am also deeply suspicious of what they say they spend on throwing those meals as so much is donated. I gather that their definition of "expenses" might differ with that of chefs. A very informative piece--written in measured Times style--but if you extrapolate/read between the lines you get a very ugly picture. They should lose their tax exempt status--apologize to the industry that's kept them "relevant" (in spite of their general uselessness), and promptly fall on their swords for their shameful, SHAMEFUL mismanagement. I hope they shut the place down and turn it into a methadone clinic.
  13. Gabrielle is coool! The woman can write!
  14. So you're driving a stolen 67 Cad ragtop at high speed down a treacherous road and you've got a skinful of hooch and an adorably schizophrenic supermodel by your side--on the way to an inevitable conflagration of crumpled metal, engine coolant and death: What are the last five songs you'd like to hear on the radio as you hurtle heedlessly towards oblivion?
  15. So here's what happened: Eric Ripert gets taken to Manresa Restaurant a few months ago, is blown away by the experience--so much so that he invites chef David Kinch to come to New York and organizes a press lunch for him in Le Bernardin's upstairs private dining room. "What do you know about this guy?" I ask Eric. " Where does he come from?" Naturally I'm thinking Kinch goes back with Eric somewhere--maybe Robuchon, maybe early days at Le Bernardin--the Palladin connection. Nope. " I don't know," says Eric. " I just liked his food. He is good. Really good." His confidence was not misplaced. Passed hors d'oevres included some very sneaky delicious "petit fours" of beet and of black olive which resembled gelee and madeleine respectively strawberry gazpacho which I didn't get at all sweet corn croquettes which were little square croquettes jacked with a tasty liquid corn filling and beautifully crafted beggars purses filled with crabmeat which made me believe in beggars purses again A foie gras and cumin caramel resembling, yup, a tiny creme renversee, was amazing crab salad with avocado and mango was good but I'm way over avocados ( a personal problem) sea urchin and saffron soup with orange was fantastic--the sea urchin standing up beautifully to the soup. brilliant blue fin tuna with lightly spicy cucumber gelee was fine delicate green curry with wild fluke also very fine scallop carpaccio with stimson clam, sauce ravigote was scary good, kooky and made perfect sense once tasted roast saddle of rabbit with prunes was another surprising and brilliant tweak on a classic desserts were also excellent: a citrus and jasmine tea gelee and black cherry financier and petit fours "grape-chocolate" cleverly mirrored the appetizer "petit fours" I thought it was a wildly creative but well-thought out meal. beautifully presented--surprisingly minimalist, very very tasty. I immediately checked out the Manresa thread on the California board feeling very foolish that I hadn't heard of either the chef or the restaurant before. I am clearly out of the loop and not up to speed. This guy is indeed something special.
  16. Who better? Is ubiquitousness an obstacle to good works--or even a factor in wether or not a chef/operator or restaurant is good? I think not. Particularly in Batali's case. Unlike most other media darling chefs, Batali's got the goods. Fact is, Mario keeps opening one quality restaurant after another, never content to take the safe route and simply duplicate the success of the previous one. Babbo, Esca, Lupa, Otto (whatever you think of the pizza) , Casa Mono--Spotted Pig, the Wine store--all offer something new and unique to diners. He and Joe Bastianich are easily the most interesting, best-for-New York outift in an otherwise cynical business. Batali gets a lot of lavish, adoring attention from journos because of--but also IN SPITE of the TV stuff. Bottom line? Most who write about the man and his works enjoy eating at his restaurants. They're grateful such places exist. They're grateful he keeps opening them. They're grateful he's the passionate, genuine, larger than life Falstaffian character he is. And they're grateful he's not another soul-less money-driven multi-unit operator like Chodorow, Hansen et al, opening one cynical "theme" joint after another--that he dares always to try new--often untested things. I see absolutely nothing wrong with praising and paying a lot of attention to Batali Inc. He's New York's best and most praiseworthy 600 pound gorilla. And when you've got a 600 pound gorilla in the room, whatever the gorilla thinks--the situation demands attention. Bruni got it just right.
  17. I thought it was a very good first review. Explained why he liked Babbo, what he liked about Babbo, gave us a pretty good idea of who was writing and what his point of view and criteria was--and awarded exactly the number of stars Babbo deserves (and probably aspires to). Bruni's appreciation of the lamb's tongues is also an encouraging note. I think he "got" the place-duly noting what's great and (quirky/unique) about both the restaurant and its proprietors. If I have one complaint it's the image of a "stomach doing the jig". Is that really a good thing?
  18. My understanding is that it's against the law to produce foie gras in Australia. The foie in restaurants is all imported--and must be pasteurized. Or so I'm told.
  19. I have to admit that I began my Ferran Adria experience with a certain amount of trepidation--if not open hostility. I was deeply skeptical. But once I saw the man eating Iberico ham with his fingers, eyes filled with pride and delight, my reservations began to vanish. I think--if anything--that the show we did is very much about overcoming that apprehension and suspicion. I tried very hard to "explain" Ferran--to the extent one can after a week with the man. The El Bulli experience is much more about "food" than I had imagined. He himself says this--again and again on camera--and points out that the making of ham is itself a "process"--just as using agar agar to congeal pea puree is. Bottom line? The food at El Bulli tastes good. It's fun. It's thought provoking. It's also-admittedly-- deeply confusing to traditionalists like myself who were previously comfortable in their assumptions.(as we see in posts above) If there's a "money shot" in the show, I think it's the shot of Adria at Rafa's, greedily sucking the juice out of a prawn head, then talking about this experience, this flavor being what he wants to honor at El Bulli. When Chris, Lydia and I set out to shoot this show, any idea of making it into an episode of A Cook's Tour went quickly out the window. I think we realized right away that this subject was too big, too interesting, too important for the kind of breezy treatment we were used to. We shot with an hour format in mind--one subject and one subject only, no comedy, no dramatic devices, basically thinking "Fuck Food Network--this footage is just too good to miss". FN for perfectly sensible business reasons, produces "personality-driven" shows. The constant refrain in editing--this time--was " Less me! More food!" I think I'm happiest that in addition to the food and the process, we got Ferran--unguarded, enthusiastic, demonstrative, gesticulative--as he really is--eating and talking about the things he believes in.
  20. Go to zeropointzero.com and click on Ferran Adria's face for short clips on Quick Time.
  21. I would like to believe that most chefs are accustomed to better head.
  22. Just had a long, boozy lunch with a large group of Melbourne food gurus at Fenix. We watched the Ramsay (affectionately known here by old cronies as "celeriac-head") Bonaparte's episode of Kitchen Nightmares. ALL present--largely chefs--agreed they would have slaughtered the chef outright. This slack-jawed mouth breather, pronouncing himself a practitioner of "fine-dining" was too dumb to even CRY after a good bollocking--then come back strong and determined. Here this dipshit gets personal--and frankly--patient, personal attention and support from GR-and when the Celeriac Head pops back in a month later for a surprise inspection? Shit-for-brains is right back running his overextended boss into bankruptcy, thoughtlessly slopping out sheep shit like the whole amazing episode never happened. GR is to be commended. He TRIED. He really tried. He spends real time in the squalid, soul-destroying, cramped, filthy kitchen with this goof. He doesnt kill him and move up his somewhat brighter second in command (which any chef would have). His business acumen, his shrewdness, his KINDNESS to dipshit's family, his comic timing--and most importantly--his realistic sense of the market (meaning no problem making steak and chips and steak and ale pie) is fucking riveting. I was really surprised at how GOOD this show is. How real a picture it paints of the real BUSINESS of making a living in the resto biz in the real world. FN US should be fucking humbled and ashamed to not have product this good. It's fucking awesome. Just wonderful. Instructive, funny, accurate, real, human. Not to be missed. If US viewers can get bootleg copies? Do so. NOW! Watching GR as dipshit admits he's NEVER MADE A FUCKING OMELETTE BEFORE is a Golden moment of restraint. I would have killed the fuck, then gone to the funeral and killed the mourners. Brilliant!
  23. Sure! Why not? Ultra cheap RAW FISH!!!! Sounds like a terrific idea! How bout two-for-one root canal? THAT sound good to you?
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